Bernie Diaz, July 5, 2017
I’ve always been fascinated by the magnificence of the language of this nation’s Declaration of Independence, which was signed and approved 241 years ago Tuesday, signifying the birth of these United States of America, which we celebrate every July 4th.
The prose, penned mostly by Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, spoke of individual and universal human rights for all Americans, being:
“.. truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That extraordinary and revolutionary sentence encompasses ideals that are almost self-consciously rooted in the truth of the existence of the sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing and always present God of the Bible, being the source of true liberty and rights for the image-bearers of his creation.
What is equally fascinating but troubling, is how these prideful and sinful image bearers in general (including ourselves), it’s elected officials and societal and cultural elites in particular, have misunderstood or abused if not ignored the plain meaning of the application of the Declaration text with respect to the treatment of others thought of as being somehow inferior, or less than themselves, such as the case of African-Americans and more recently over the past generation or so, the pre or unborn children of America.
Slavery and abortion in my view have been the two greatest stains of blood which have appeared on the face of the Declaration, but thankfully, reformation and the restoration of such rights came to the born men and women of color in this country, better late than never, though still painfully slow, in parts of evangelical, American Christianity, as was the case of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Protestant denomination to which my church is a member of and is America’s largest, with reportedly 16 million members.
Amazingly if not paradoxically, the SBC, long a voice of Biblical fidelity and Great Commission ministry, stood arm in arm in southern sensibilities and with segregationists, intent on regarding black Christians as less deserving of fellowship and full integration into the church.
While space here does not allow for a review of SBC history and Afro-American Christianity, the denomination in its recently concluded annual convention, adopted a resolution “On the Anti-Gospel of Alt-Right Supremacy.”
The resolution which won nearly unanimous support after a tumultuous 24 hours of debate among delegates, in essence segregates or separates Southern Baptist churches from a political movement that is neither Christian nor conservative despite its claims to be so.
The term “alt-right”—short-hand for “alternative right”—was coined by Paul Gottfried in the title of an address he delivered in 2008, whereby the term came to refer to a type of white identity politics that believes in racialism, meaning that at its core, like other forms of identity politics, emphasizes the fact that people belong to specific races and tribes, and that these races and tribes have shared cultures that members of the race must preserve and defend.
Therefore, white identity proponents are especially concerned to oppose interracial adoption, interracial marriage, and non-European immigrants. According to Christian scholar and author Bruce Ashford, “The alt-right possesses an idolatrous ideology.” He notes that the alt-right, “.. identifies as saviors those leaders who can liberate them from being influenced by or ruled by other ethnic groups and cultures, and desires a future in which clear lines of demarcation exist between ethnic groups.”
This movement, plainly refuted by scripture (e.g. Acts 17:26-27; Gal. 3:28; Rev. 7:9-10), has exerted an inordinate amount of influence among certain “conservative” circles in America, including some who have identified as being Baptist, which is why it was so heartening to hear that Southern Baptist Church pastor Dwight McKissic, who is African-American, said he was encouraged “to see so many Southern Baptists take a courageous stand” and for a generation of them to say, “We will not take this sitting down,” in the aftermath of the just passed resolution by the SBC.
As I think about our Independence Day and its roots, I am gladdened by the fact that the American church of Jesus Christ- the SBC included, can repent and reform of its past sinful transgressions and begin to proclaim true liberty and independence for all image bearers of God.
If the only the church would now rise up and proclaim in one unified voice, freedom for the millions of unborn captives to the hideous holocaust of abortion, and that the nation would hear and heed that call, and grant independence and those “unalienable rights”, among them being “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” to the most innocent and vulnerable among us.
Should that day come in my lifetime should Jesus tarry, or delay his second coming in judgment, it will be the best Independence Day and 4th of July I could ever dream of.